Thursday, June 30, 2011

Group is encouraging local CPS anniversary celebrations.

A group that has set up a new website to tell the Civilian Public Service (CPS) story is also encouraging local celebrations of 70th anniversaries of CPS camps around the country. Nearly 12,000 conscientious objectors to war chose Civilian Public Service during World War II, performing "work of national importance" rather than bearing arms.

The new website, titled "The Civilian Public Service Story: Living Peace in a Time of War," may be found at Living CPS men from World War II, concerned that the story would not die with them, initiated its creation according to a press release.

The website includes the origins of the CPS program, which was an historic church-state partnership designed to protect the rights of conscience and which remained in effect until 1947. The website also provides a comprehensive listing of draftees who served in CPS as well as the communities, occupations, and denominations from which they entered, and the camps and units to which they were assigned. Users may search the database of names as well as a listing and description of the more than 150 settings where CPSers served in soil conservation, forest service, public health projects, state mental hospitals, as smoke jumpers, and human guinea pigs.

The site was launched on May 15, on the 70th anniversary of the opening of the first CPS Camp in 1941, in Patapsco near Relay, Md.

The Brethren Service Committee directly operated several of the other CPS camps that also opened in 1941 and have 70th anniversaries this year: in May, the CPS Camp No. 6 in Largo, Ind.; in June the CPS Camp No. 1, Onekama, at Manistee, Mich., and CPS Camp No. 7 in Magnolia, Ark.; in July, the CPS Camp No. 16 in Kane, Pa.; in August, the CPS Camp No. 17 in Stronach, Mich.; and in November, the CPS Camp No. 21 in Cascade Locks, Ore.

Resources available from organizers at Mennonite Central Committee include a sample press release suitable for local commemorations, a listing of camp or unit openings by month and location, along with contact information for local newspapers and libraries to help facilitate publicity about local CPS celebrations. Contact Rosalind Andreas at or 802-879-0012, or Titus Peachey at or 717-859-1151.

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